This week instead of being all about straight facts, I thought I could share a personal experience and add facts into it. This week I want to talk about Bipolar Disorder. I have struggled with it my whole life, and I know what you are going to say… Tyler Bipolar doesn’t show up until you get older, but it does show up. Bipolar though cannot be diagnosed until adulthood (18 at the earliest) usually around 21-22 years of age.
I should first start by saying, bipolar is one of the most difficult mental disorders to diagnose especially in children. Back in 2006 a study was completed on bipolar disorder about misdiagnosis and the study stated this, “’69 percent of patients with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed initially and more than one-third remained misdiagnosed for 10 years or more.’” (NCBI). The study also referenced another study that says how Bipolar Disorder, on average, took five to seven years for a proper diagnosis to be made.
Bipolar is typically diagnosed as unipolar depression (also known as clinical depression) during an episode (mood swing) of depressive mood or it can be diagnosed as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) during an episode of mania. Getting incorrect treatment can make the whole disorder worse especially if treated with an anti-depressant to curb the low mood.
Bipolar Disorder is a brain and behavior disorder that creates extreme shifts in a person’s mood and energy levels making it difficult for a person to function during the normal daily life. Bipolar episodes can trigger different symptoms depending on if it’s a manic episode or depressive episode. Mania is a super hype mood where you have energy and depressive mood is the complete opposite.
Symptoms of mania:
- Increased energy, activity and restlessness
- Euphoric mood
- Extreme irritability
- Poor concentration
- Racing thoughts, fast talking, jumping between ideas
- Heightened sense of self-importance (thinking you’re the sh*t)
- Spending sprees
- Increased sex drive
- Abuse of drugs
- Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
- Denial that anything is wrong
Symptoms of Depressive:
- Sad, anxious, or empty-feeling mood
- Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness
- Loss of interest
- Decreased sex drive (usually to nothing)
- Decreased energy, fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Restless and irritable
- Sleeplessness or sleeping too much
- Change in appetite, unintended weight gain or loss
- Bodily symptoms not caused by physical illness or injury
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Bipolar has many branches each with different severities:
- Bipolar 1 classified by episode lasting at least seven days or symptoms are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care
- Bipolar 2 classified by defined patterns of episodes but episodes shift between hypomanic episodes (less intrusive mania) and being normal
- Cyclothymic Disorder classified by mild forms of hypomania that shifts with hypodepression (less intrusive depression) for at least 2 years, but doesn’t reach other bipolar standards
- Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder classified by four or more episode of major depression, mania, hypodepression, and hypomania, or mixed symptoms within a year.
The “fun” thing with Bipolar Disorder is that there is no cure, but there are treatments options to manage the symptoms. Those are medication (not completely getting rid of symptoms), psychotherapy, and getting parents and friends to understand the disorder and do what they can to support the individual with this disorder during an episode.
I made this post not to get sympathy or to get pity, I made this post to educate those people who may be struggling with this disorder or to help those who have a family member or friend with this disorder. My story went a little like this; A little kid with lots of energy brought to therapy and diagnosed with ADHD and was put on medication, the meds made me suicidal but I was 5 so trouble, I was taked off those meds and was put in therapy for the rest of my childhood. I would never stay with a doctor so I jumped around from therapist to therapist and my moods got stronger and they lasted longer. At this point my therapist had no idea what this could be, but my mom had a feeling it was bipolar and she tried to talk to my therapists about this, but none would listen because I was “too young” to be showing symptoms. As I got older the more manic episodes I got and the more violent I became I started to get into my moms face I would yell and scream, eventually the time came where it got too much and I wound up in a psychiatric hospital and put on anti-psychotic medication. In the end my life was hectic, but it came out with a diagnosis almost 10 years after I showed symptoms and I am now stable.
Helpful website on how to support those with Bipolar Disorder
https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-help-a-depressed-friend (Depressive Episode)
https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/aa167725 (Manic Episode)
“Frequently Asked Questions about Bipolar Disorder.” Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, 15 June 2017, www.bbrfoundation.org/faq/frequently-asked-questions-about-bipolar-disorder.
Moss, Gabrielle. “5 Mental Health Disorders That Are Often Misdiagnosed.” Bustle, Bustle, 9 June 2016, www.bustle.com/articles/165839-5-mental-health-disorders-that-are-often-misdiagnosed.
Singh, Tanvir, and Muhammad Rajput. “Misdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.” Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)), Matrix Medical Communications, Oct. 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2945875/.